Thursday, January 30, 2014

Best commentary I've read on the issues created in Atlanta by the snow:
"Comforting to know that if the South ever rises again, we'll be able to suppress them with a snow machine."
Naw, c'mon ya'll.  I love you.  I understand that you do not have the equipment to tend to the roads when these things happen, but do the ppl who still sent their kids to school or headed to work that morning not have brains to realize that if there is snow coming that things will not continue to operate as normal?
Talk about 24 hours of good scores for dog food.  Recently I peeked at my Petco account and see that they forced me into their newer version of the Pals program, which is rather disappointing since a while back they sent information offering to change over but said we could stay with the current deal, which was buy 10 bags of dog food get 1 free.  Let's do that math with approx. $40 a bag that's $40 free for every $400 spent.  Their new "deal" is spend $100 and get a $5 gift card, well folks, that's half as much.  Boo.
To top it off the bags I had accumulated towards my 10 were gone gone gone.  So I emailed and expressed my displeasure.  Ask Rex, there is nothing better than a strongly worded letter.  In the mean time I decided to do a search to see where I could potentially get the same or better prices on the food ordering online because I am just that displeased with the change.  I find has the food at comparable prices w/ free shipping options - score.  Then I see they have a type of Iams food that is preservative free a new "flavor" for the girls - yay.  Oh, and it's on sale - double yay!  And, the 20% off your first food order coupon stacked - triple YAY!!  So, I ordered 3 bags to hopefully hold us over until Big Lots gets more Iams bags (fingers crossed).
Then I get an email from Petco that they're going to issue 4 of the $5 cards because of the bags I had accrued.  Score, that's half a bag free.  Then I get an email from Discover card, turns out was one of their "Extras", so they're giving me $5 back.
Oh and the food from, according to tracking it will be here today.  Holy man that's fast, I just ordered it yesterday at lunch time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I just had a moment that triggered a few memories that led me to telling you that I _am_ Charlie Brown.  I say this in the sense that while my heart is often in the right place and I try, I often just fail in an epic manner.  I need to first assure you that the new pants I'm wearing today were washed once, so I'm a bit perplexed at this finding... but none the less:  I went to the restroom and found a "QC OK 96" sticker stuck to my inner thigh.  At least I passed quality control.  *rolls eyes*  I find it entertaining that a large portion of my work-a-day life is focused on quality simply because that simply doesn't seem to be the standard when I look back over my life, and why that darn sticker ended up being so darn funny to me.
As such, the sticker and its connotation led me to think about elementary school science projects.  What an awesome leap, right?  I suppose it also helped that the whole humidifier irritation is still on my mind and I've been pondering how much a whole-house humidifier would be cost and maintenance wise.
Ok, I'm loosing focus of the story I want to tell, but at least you're seeing the components that are whirling around in my head together that led to the mash up thought of science projects.  You see, I have distinct memories of two projects at good ol' Washington and Jefferson (W&J) elementary.  If memory serves they were in the same year, and given the classroom scene etched in my memory, both my first year there (2nd grade).  The amusing part is this is my first year in the "gifted" program, so here I am already the dumb one in the sea of knowledge... then the science debacles.
First project:  We all know that low humidity in the winter makes you shock the crap out of yourself all too often.  Heaven knows needing to restart my DSL modem lately has not been pleasant, nor has turning on my bedroom light.  If you have low humidity, a vellux blanket (That's right I was classy then, I'm classy now, but at least my current one isn't mustardy yellow.  There is nothing better than a sweet vellux blankie at night.  Don't judge me.), and the right fabric of nightgown you can make sparks at night!  Hey, I'd still find that entertaining, not just at 7 years old.  So, this was what my project was about.  I even brought the awesome vellux and dinosaur night shirt to school to demonstrate static electricity.  Now a scientist well researched on their topic of static electricity would know that was only possible due to the very low humidity and any scientist would know that their environment would need to be meticulously maintained if
they expected the same results from their experiment.  Yeah, not this scientist.  Failure to spark - so kudos to W&J for keeping an appropriately humidified environment.
Note:  The dinosaur night shirt is the one that was subsequently cut off of me one morning late in the school year because I had sunburned myself so terribly that I couldn't lift my arms up high enough to take it off in the morning.  Fact!
Second Project:  All I recall is that I was aiming for some part of the solar system.  I had my cardboard box turned to its side, with my planets sticking up on the inside, and I had put little holes in the back of the box, where I pushed through each little light from a strand of Christmas lights to be the stars in my universe.  Worked great at home.  Plug it in at school and nothing.  I'm sure there was one bulb somewhere in the strand that was telling me I was number 1 *ahem* (you see folks, old Christmas lights were wired in series, not parallel, so if one light burned out the whole strand went out)
Ok, were either of these epic fails?  You might not think so, but ask the 7 year old me horrified in front of my class.  Well, at least I've identified where it all started downhill, right?  (Note I'm laughing while typing that.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's time for a complaint about the things associated with this hella cold.
1).  I came home and the place I pay plowed again.  Woo hoo now all of my gravel is over there (points) instead of across the whole frontage of my property.  I just can't WAIT to get to move a couple tons of gravel around in the spring (again).
2).  If it's so freaking cold why do I have to keep knocking icicles down out front.  I am really tired of things never being done "properly".
3).  I JUST changed the humidifier filters less than 10 days ago.  They're already reading that they need changed and not wicking up water.  GAH!
4).  As I sit here in the living room this evening as the temps are diving downward I've heard two loud popping noises, the first from above me (roof) and another from the top of the wall near the roof in the corner of the room.  That doesn't bode well.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I'm bored.  I have little to do around here except the cleaning and other mundane things that I put off way too often, but I'm still lamenting the end of my weekend.  Need to find something more meaningful to do with my freedom from the gray cubicle walls than waiting for new lives to accrue in candy crush.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

When I saw the fat flakes flying this morning I almost didn't venture out, but the lure of 20% at Big Lots was too much to resist and I'm glad I went.  The roads are way better today than they have been most all week.  I suspect it is because we've finally crept up a bit over the 15 degree mark, so the salt is actually working again.  Of course the forecast currently says our balmy forcast for next week is as follows, so it won't last:
Mon 25 / -7
Tue 1 / -6
Wed 11/ 4
Hell hath (officially) frozen over.

It's been cold enough that I've powered through the photos I took on our last few warm days.  Now what am I going to do in the evenings if not add listings/photos to findagrave?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I've been feeling a bit slighted/less than/moody and all that other good stuff the past day or so... so I am really grateful to have had a moment after work.  Needless to say it's frickin cold out there.  I was just a bit over a quarter of a tank of gas and there is no end to the hella cold for another week, so I had to stop and filler up.  It was tough to stand there for that short period of time.

When I got home and opened the door, the warm air hit my face and I realized how blessed I am.  Enough that it actually made me cry.  There are so many people who are not blessed to have a warm home to come back to at the end of the day.  So, I want to say for the world to see - Lord, thank you.  You've given me more than I could ever deserve.  Even when I'm feeling low, I need to recognize how gifted I am.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A peeve:  If I reach out to your business/organization/church (whatever) via email don't reply to my email giving me a telephone number to contact you at.  I assure you I saw your telephone number and I didn't want to call, thus the email I sent.  How about if you answer my question.
To take it the next step:  I've listed the apartment for rent.  I don't put my telephone number out there because:
- People are not respectful of decent hours.
- I like my privacy and safety.  Once I feel comfortable enough with you I'll give you the address of the rental and my cell number.
- and the biggest reason - I hate the phone.
Don't email and ask me to call.  Worse still, ask me to text you.  Um, no.  Ask your question in the email I'll reply.  See how that works?  Then we both have a record of what was said too.  The times I have decided to call the number given I end up getting asked everything about the place that is easily answered if you read the listing, so, really, calling is kind of a waste of my time, especially when you are then not going to come see it anyhow.
And finally:  So you've replied, perhaps with an automated message from your business saying you've received my message and someone will be in contact with me.  If that was a month ago and I still haven't heard from you again I'll assume you do NOT want my business, I won't beg you.  On a good day I see you as the DBK, on a bad day I feel personnally slighted like it wasn't meant to be, so shame on you.  Unfortunately this is happening with something I wanted to pursue (see my end of 2013 post about not taking actions to move towards my other goals) and there isn't a ton of other places to work with around these here parts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I just finished Doctor Sleep, which I had started on the flight out of town earlier this month.  I hadn't realized it was kinda the sequel to The Shining until Angela pointed this out after she completed the book.  I guess you can say that made it easy to choose as my next Stephen King book to tackle.  There remains quite a few of his books unread on my shelves, I really need to get in gear.  I think this every time I do dive in as I do enjoy his style.

I'm not a great reader by any stretch, but I can easily paint a picture in my own mind when I'm reading King.  So much so, that when I'm reading his books things that happen around me often seem to fit in and blend reality and story line enough to make me pause.  This happened a few times while on the ship and believe me if someone makes you think of Rose the Hat you twitch a wee bit, but it wasn't a fantastical scare.  I like the ones that give me creepy dreams.  What is wrong with me?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sounds like we have more global warming coming our way this week.  At least it doesn't sound like it will get as cold as it did while I was away and there won't be a ton of snow.
I did get to see mom on Saturday, taking her flowers and candy and then running to get us a meal from Olive Garden to celebrate her birthday which was earlier in the week.
I also finally manned up and talked to the youth leader at our church about getting involved with that group, so we'll see if that ends up being something I will be involved in down the road.  I am basically a big kid after all, and if you're a bit jealous of the places the teens are going as a group you really should just join in!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Never underestimate the power of network issues to mess with a creature of habit.  While other things may be functioning normally the limited access immediately makes you freeze like a deer in headlights saying "but this is when I do this".  At least I'm not one of those people who needs to turn lights on and off a certain number of times or everything is ruined, but I guess this is similar.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"....she can only legally collect welfare if she earns less than $119,000 a year."
Are you kidding me?  Where's my welfare check?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Slow start posting wise to the new year, but with good cause... the first few days were filled with the last minute activities before I headed away on our make-up cruise from the fire sailing last May on Grandeur of the Seas.  We took the credit they gave us and headed to Fort Lauderdale on the Allure of the Seas - the largest cruise ship in the world and newest ship in RC's fleet.

Now, if you're paying attention to the weather around "these parts" you'll know we managed to miss hella cold in the past week, for which I am very grateful.  I'm even more grateful that I came home to a house that was safe and in tact.  Heaven knows with the heat turned back while I'm gone and the extreme cold I could have still easily had pipe issues.  We also were very fortune that this area didn't get as much snow as those north of us back at the start of the new year, and our travel to and from was met with really nice weather and absolutely no delays or problems.

Beff and I headed out for the first time on Spirit Airlines, out of Latrobe, on the 3rd.  I can't tell you how wonderful that short drive and not paying for parking was.  We did book not one, but two days, before the cruise sailed to give us a little more comfort since we flew out in the middle of the winter and there is only one direct flight from LBE to FLL each afternoon.  The seats were NOT more cramped as some people seemed to believe, and I'll GLADLY fly them again, especially given the great rates that you can get not only to FLL but to DFW as well.

We didn't do much the first day in FLL but wait for my sister and niecey-poo to arrive on their day before flight.  Beff caught up on sleep while I tried to read and fight off a headache.  We did have some good grub right there at the hotel (Rodeway Inn and Suites / The Reef), despite the rather slow service.  Cranberry in your burgers... who'da thought!?  The hotel was okay.  I know from past experience that FLL hotels are a bit grungy and beneath my standards for what I expect for what I'm paying, so in comparison to others I'll give this place good marks.  Odd however that the floor wasn't carpeted, it was tile, and no elevator to the second floor.  Our hot water died on us midafternoon too, but they did get it remedied within a reasonable time.

So, on the 5th, on to Allure and our Boardwalk view balcony, 9729, furthest aft that was not the uber suites.  We were able to watch a good bit of the aqua theater practices and shows right from our balcony.  I had read that some folks had issues with noise from Rita's Cantina on the boardwalk, which was not our experience, they were pretty quiet, but an Welcome Back show on the first sea day (day after Nassau) did end up waking Beff and Niecey-Poo, granted it was after 10am, so... probably not a real noise issue there.  I think they were more upset that they missed the chocolate breakfast that morning than being woke.  My sister and I were down there enjoying that show, immediately after we went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet, where she won one of the door prizes, bringing us back yet another free bottle of champagne!  I guess I didn't mention that now that I am diamond plus, that was my selection for a welcome back gift.  Yes please!  We then rode the carousel (the first of several rides through the week), did some onboard shopping, sat watching the folks taking their shot at the stand up flow rider, and hit the zip line.  You'll be proud, unlike on Oasis, I didn't need pushed this time!

First stop, Nassau Bahamas:  Allure is having some propulsion concerns, so they have reduced her speeds, which meant we were leaving a little earlier than was planned when we booked, so we didn't head down towards some of the sights I've had on my to do list from the past two visits.  Instead we wandered through the straw market briefly and along a couple of stores before we headed to Senor Frogs.  Hey, at least we waited until close to 11am to go have a few drinks and salsa!  It seemed fitting that we headed there anyhow, since that is where we spent some time while in Freeport after the fire last May.

Second stop, after a day at sea, St Thomas:  We were booked with Sunny Liston tours in this port.  Our stay was shortened (arriving late) in advance due to the propulsion issues, but was even later than expected due to currents and movement issues.  So, I will say that we were even later than planned, but our driver, Elvis was still there waiting for us and ready to take us out for some shopping, sightseeing, and the beach.  We did get to see some great sights, but nixed the hard core shopping beyond one main stop (which didn't seem to realize that ppl come in more than small sizes) due to the shortened period to continue on to the beach.  Our driver noted that Sapphire beach was having issues w/ their facilities and recommended against there, which was okay, since I had been there before, and noted how crowded Coki beach would be w/ 6 ships in port, so he suggested we go with Magen's Bay.  It was nice, but not as nice as you'd expect from a place labeled as one of the top beautiful beaches in the world - National Geographic fail IMHO.  We did at least see some pelicans flying around and diving into the water and did enjoy our time there.

Third and final stop, St Maarten:  I thought we might head to Maho beach, but instead we took the water taxi across to the main area and did a good bit of shopping in all of the jewelry stores.  We then snagged a guavaberry fruity beverage and strolled along the man made beach back up to the water taxi.

Next up two days at sea:  The first day I was able to get a tour of the bridge, which was a completely awesome first experience to do so on the largest/newest ship.  (Yay for being diamond plus.)  I was very happy to see that they had a couple extra security steps in place before they allowed anyone in there and maintained close escorts.  There was a behind the scenes aqua theater tour that fizzled out due to the movement, but at least we were allowed up on the stage.  I did peek into the concierge lounge, but didn't head up there for the evening drinks since Beff just turned diamond.  There was time in the hot tub, including the last night when we saw Oasis passing in the distance as she headed out on her sailing.  There was a visit to Johnny Rockets (nom), people watching, a glow dance party (which seemed to turn into music I'd moreso expect from Rita's Cantina), and karaoke (which also was more apt to be at Boleros), a Madagascar aqua show, and posing with some of the Madagascar characters for photos.

My applause?  1).  Our stateroom attendant (Vic), waiter (Bernardo), assistant waiter (Shane), and head waiter (Val) were all awesome.  2).  The shows were fantastic!  I _loved_ Chicago.  Blue planet was sweet, but I wish we were sitting further back and centered.  The Aqua shows were amazing.  The comedians were pretty darn good (the opening act better than the other).  The Ice Show... well, technically it was awesome, but the premise was a bit of a stretch that didn't "do it" for me, but a great performance none the less.  I guess I should say shows here too as they also had a "How to Train Your Dragon" show.  Our headliner was a ventriloquist, who was pretty good as well.  3).  Ken Rush, the cruise director, did a great job.  He's not as amped up awesome on stage as Richard Spacey was, but he more than made up for it by still having a good personality off the stage.  There is something to be said for consistency and being the same guy on stage as off.  4).  Interesting factoid - the crown and anchors above the aqua theaters on both the Allure and Oasis are the ones that were removed from Sovereign as she left the fleet!

My disappointments?  1).  We had requested a larger table, as we love getting to meet people, but ended up at a table for 4.  We tried to move, but they could not accommodate our request.  Boo.  It became apparent why as we learned more about our travel mates.  Around 1/4 of the ship were Brazilians, who seemed to be sailing in large familial groups.  I'll tell you, they don't consider personal space/distances the same way we do, and it started to grate.  2).  The attendants in the shops onboard were a bit rude at times and the folks in the Diamond lounge were business, not friendly, didn't introduce themselves or start to remember you and your preferences.  Boo.

We definitely had a bit of motion in the ocean.  I can't believe how much Allure was moving.  I had really attributed the size to never noticing any movement in Oasis.  It was kind of nice to get rocked to sleep each night on my comfy (no, I'm serious) fold out sofa, and we got lucky that the sloshing (barely) didn't cancel our ice show.